Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Central African Republic Rebels Advance While Protests Take Place at French Embassy

Protesters throw stones at French Embassy in Central African Republic as rebels advance

By Associated Press
Wednesday, December 26, 5:54 PM

BANGUI, Central African Republic — Angry protesters carrying clubs threw rocks at the French Embassy in Central African Republic on Wednesday, criticizing the former colonial power for failing to do more to stem a rapid rebel advance as fears grew that the insurgents aim to seize the capital.

The demonstrations began earlier in the day outside the U.S. Embassy before about 100 protesters then took to the French Embassy, carrying pieces of cardboard with messages that read: “No to war! No to France!”

“It’s France who colonized us — they should support us until the end. Unfortunately, they have done nothing. In this case, we are merely asking purely and simply that they leave our country,” shouted one young demonstrator in front of the French mission in Bangui.

The protesters then began stopping cars to verify whether any foreign nationals were inside.

“These people have taken down the French flag from its pole and removed it,” said Serge Mucetti, the French ambassador to Central African Republic. “They have carried out stone-throwing in the area of the embassy and have broken windows. This kind of behavior is unacceptable.”

Air France confirmed Wednesday that its once-a-week flight to Bangui turned back because of protests at the French Embassy. The decision was made independently by Air France, and the French government did not make the request, said an airline spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because company policy did not authorize her to speak on the record.

The French foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many fear that Bangui, a city of about 600,000 people, could be the scene of a battle between government forces and the rebels. The fighters already have seized at least 10 towns, meeting little resistance from soldiers.

Rebel Col. Djouma Narkoyo said Wednesday that his forces have continued taking towns in recent days because government forces are attacking their positions. But, he insisted via phone: “Our intention is not to take Bangui. We still remain open to dialogue.”

Bangui residents were skeptical of the insurgents’ intentions.

“We are afraid by what we see happening in our country right now,” said Leon Modomale, a civil servant in the capital. “It’s as if the rebels are going to arrive in Bangui any moment now because there are too many contradictions in their language.”

The rebel advance began earlier this month, with a push by the Union for the Democratic Forces for Unity, known by its French acronym of UFDR. The group signed an April 13, 2007, peace accord, which paved the way for the fighters to join the regular army, but the group’s leaders say the deal was never properly implemented.

Central African Republic is a desperately poor, landlocked country that has suffered numerous rebellions since independence from France. Despite the nation’s wealth of gold, diamonds, timber and uranium, the government remains perpetually cash-strapped.

U.S. special forces troops have deployed to Central African Republic among other countries in the region in the hunt for Joseph Kony, the fugitive rebel leader of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army.

Associated Press Writer Lori Hinnant contributed to this report from Paris.


Protest at Central Africa French Embassy Turns Violent

by Naharnet Newsdesk

Angry demonstrators hurled projectiles and tore down the French flag at France's embassy in the Central African Republic capital Bangui on Wednesday, protesting at a lack of help to deter rebels who have occupied a large swathe of the country.

Former colonial power France "has the tendency to abandon us," a protester said as the group arrived from an earlier sit-in outside the U.S. embassy. "We no longer need France, France may as well take its embassy and leave."

Protesters close to embattled President Francois Bozize had begun their U.S. embassy protest chanting calls for peace just as rebels approaching Bangui called on forces loyal to Bozize to lay down their arms.

But the peaceful protest moved to the French embassy where the mood turned violent and demonstrators broke windows and pulled down the French flag.

"This situation is completely unacceptable," said French ambassador Serge Mucetti.

"I ask the government of the Central African Republic to respect the appropriate agreements on this matter. Those who acted in such a manner are enemies of the Central African Republic," he said.

A student demonstrator at the scene accused France of "not respecting defense agreements" linking the two countries.

The offices of Air France were also attacked, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Since the end of colonization in the 1960s, French troops stationed in western Africa have often come to the help of former colonies whose regimes were on the verge of being toppled.

The Seleka rebel coalition now controls large swathes of the north and the east of the country.

Neighboring Chad has sent troops into the country after a request from Bozize to try and stem the rebel advance.

Seleka is made up of rebels who say the government has not honored peace accords signed between 2007 and 2011, which offered financial support and other help for insurgents who laid down their arms.

Source: Agence France Presse


Violent protests erupt at French embassy in Bangui

By FRANCE 24
26/12/2012 - 15:35

French forces deployed around France's embassy in the Central African Republic on Wednesday after protesters angered by a rebel advance in the north of the country hurled stones at the building and tore down the French flag.

Violent protests erupted Wednesday in front of the French embassy in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, with hundreds of angry demonstrators hurling projectiles, burning tires and vandalising the building’s entrance.

France's Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said French troops were promptly deployed around the embassy's compound, "securing" the area and "restoring calm".

Earlier, a FRANCE 24 Observer speaking from within the embassy compound said the clashes had begun around 9am local time. "It started with shouts, slogans and angry posters, then stones were thrown at the building, smashing several windows," he said. "The situation was chaotic, CAR troops were patrolling but none intervened. Some protesters managed to scale the gates and snatch the French flag."

An embassy source told FRANCE 24 that around 50 people, including women and children, were barricaded inside the compound.

Anti-French sentiment

Demonstrators said they were angry at France for failing to help the army fight off rebel forces, who have occupied a large swathe of the country. Some even accused the former colonial power of siding with the insurgency.

FRANCE 24’s International Affairs Editor, Douglas Herbert, said the perceived failure of France to act had caused tensions. “'Why are they just sitting there not doing anything while rebels advance very steadily on the capital?' is a sentiment felt by some," he said.

“There’s a paradox here because a lot of them feel like they’ve been abandoned by France…and some feel that France is actively backing the rebellion itself.”

The rebels, known as the Seleka alliance, have in recent weeks taken a string of towns in the north of the land-locked country, which has been mostly unstable since independence from France in 1960.

“We are here at the French Embassy because it is France who colonised us. France has the tendency to abandon us. We don’t need France anymore; France may as well take its embassy and leave,” one protester told the AFP.

'Completely unacceptable'

France's ambassador to the country, Serge Mucetti, urged local authorities to take decisive action over the events, which he described as "completely unacceptable".

"I ask the government of the Central African Republic to respect the appropriate agreements on this matter. Those who acted in such a manner are enemies of the Central African Republic," he said.

President Fran├žois Bozize of the Central African Republic came to power in 2003 after a brief war and has repeatedly relied on foreign interventions to fend off rebellions and the spill-over from conflict in neighbouring Chad and Sudan.

With rebel forces just 75km north of the capital, he is more reliant on than other on help from abroad.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
---------------------------------------------------
Source URL: http://www.france24.com/en/20121226-central-african-republic-violent-protests-french-embassy


Cholera epidemic hits Central African Republic

Created 2011-10-08 15:58
By RFI

A cholera epidemic has claimed 16 lives in the Central African Republic, according to a health ministry spokesman. The latest reports show 57 cases and 16 deaths from the illness, which has reached the capital city of Bangui.

A hospital official in Bangui said on Saturday that four cases had been declared in the capital, and that the Red Cross has intervened.

Another health services source said that cholera had killed six people in the Limbo region.

Health Minister Jean-Michel Mandaba announced on 30 September that the death toll had reached at least 10 in the southern regions of Ombella-Mpoko and Lobaye.

The outbreak comes two months after health officials warned of a potential cholera epidemic, after finding the presence of the disease in nearby countries.

No comments: